Business is all about growth. The idea is to continually progress and expand until you’ve established something that can sustain the lifestyle you’re working for. While businesses grow differently depending on the industry, products, services and marketing strategies they employ, there still are some general stages of business growth that every company goes through.

Looking at other companies and analyzing these stages can help to give business owners insight into what they can do to prepare for growth, capitalize on it and expand without going through over more hurdles than they need to.

Here are some of the main stages of business growth and how they can apply to your business.

1. Development

The very first stage in a company’s business growth cycle is that of development. In this stage, you’re working hard to set up your business for future success. Typically, this development stage starts with the creation of a really good business plan.

A good business plan will accurately and thoroughly answer the following questions:

  • What is your company all about?
  • What is the management hierarchy?
  • What are your products and services?
  • What makes you different from your competition?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How do you plan to market your products/services effectively?
  • How do you plan to sell your products and services?
  • What are your financial goals?
  • Do you need additional funding and how do you plan to get it?
  • What is your strategy for success?

Answering these tough questions thoroughly will not only help your business as it tries to secure funding from investors or financial institutions but will also be a framework you can refer back to throughout the course of business to make sure you stay on track.

2. Existence and Survival

After planning, now comes the execution phase of business growth. Can you get your business started and keep it running? Businesses going through the existence phase are trying to figure out where they fit in the industry. Is initial success something they can replicate or is it a flash in the pan? Once you’ve learned to survive through the good times and the bad, you can then enter the next phase of business growth – expansion.

3. Expansion

In this stage of business growth, you encounter real growing pains. How do you plan to hire more people, keep them engaged and stay true to company values? How do you effectively scale larger projects and staff enough people and buy enough equipment to keep up?

Answering these questions as you go through the cycle will help you to know if real success can be maintained.